(BIVN) – A man awaiting trial on murder charges was erroneously released from Hawaii Community Correctional Center two days ago, and now State Sheriffs and Hawaii County Police are on the lookout for the detainee.
Brian Smith was scheduled to appear in court this afternoon but didn’t show, officials say. Only then did they realize was mistakenly released from HCCC on Tuesday, July 24. Smith was supposed to be detained on $1.15 million bail as he awaited trial “on Murder 1 & 2, as well as firearms charges including Ownership or Possession of a Firearm, and Carrying a Firearm in the Commission of a Separate Felony,” the Hawaii Department of Public Safety says. A bench warrant was issued this afternoon for $2 million dollars.
Smith was charged in connection with a June 23 shooting incident on Painted Church Road in South Kona that left 42-year-old Thomas Ballesteros Jr. dead. Smith, who was apparently injured in the incident, was arrested the next day.
Smith is 49-year old. He is 5’7” and weighs 130 lbs. He has grey hair and blue eyes. “If you see him, please call 911,” state officials say.
UPDATE: Governor David Ige released a statement on the situation:
“I am upset and deeply concerned about the erroneous release of pre-trial detainee Brian Smith. Residents on Hawaiʻi Island have had to deal with the lava emergency and the recent murder of a police officer, and I know this news is another blow.
“Our number one priority right now is your safety, and that means getting the suspect into custody. I assure you that law enforcement agencies are doing everything they can to locate him. I urge all Hawaiʻi residents to remain alert and call 911 if they see or hear something that could help.
“As is standard operating procedure, the department is investigating to determine what led to this error. I have asked Public Safety Department Director Nolan Espinda to personally oversee this investigation and report back to me as information is gathered.”